Common Safety Threats Around the House

When you come home at the end of the day, you just want to relax. But maintaining a peaceful atmosphere goes far beyond simply putting your feet up. Creating a safe home environment where your family can grow and thrive is a top priority. Thankfully, though several serious safety hazards lurk around the average home, most of these concerns are pretty easy to address. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to achieve maximum  home safety. This page addresses common safety hazards around the home and simple solutions for keeping you and your loved ones out of harm’s way.


Watch Out For These Home Safety Hazards

  1. Falls
  2. Poisoning
  3. Burns
  4. Drowning
  5. Choking
  6. Sharp Objects
  7. Stove Fires and Injuries
  8. Fire Hazards
  9. Dishwashers
  10. Suffocation


Falls are a common cause of injuries and the leading cause of death when it comes to home accidents. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury including traumatic brain injuries. While anyone is at risk for injury from a fall, older adults have a higher risk of death from this common accident. Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.

Many conditions increase your chance of a fall, including:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Being drunk or impaired by medications
  • Vision problems
  • Damage to the nerves in your legs or feet from diseases like diabetes, or other medical conditions
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers 

Minimize The Risk

  • Clear the path: Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways and stairs. Move coffee tables and magazine racks and plant stands from walkways. Keep items off the stairs.
  • See the light: Place night lights between your bedroom and the bathroom. Turn on the lights before using the stairs. Turn on lights around the outside stairs.
  • Keep steady: Remove or tape down area rugs and if you have carpet on the stairs make sure it’s firmly attached. Use nonslip mats or stickers in your bathtub or shower. Consider using a bath seat and install grab bars in your shower and tub if your balance is bad. Make sure you have handrails on both sides of the stairways.
  • Play it safe: Use extreme caution with ladders and step stools. If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar to hold on to. Never use a chair as a step stool.
  • Stay strong and healthy: because falls are an especially high risk for older adults, you should your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do like exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance, or if any medications you take might make you dizzy or sleepy. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor regularly and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
  • Staircases: Keep children safe from tumbling down steps by installing safety gates at both the bottom and top of staircases. Make sure the lighting is good and the handrails and steps are solid and well-maintained. Older adults with less mobility should consider installing stairlifts or consider moving to a home without stairs to avoid falls.
  • Bathrooms: Anyone is susceptible to falls in the bathroom due to slippery wet surfaces. Place a non-slip carpet or floor mat with  those at risk of falling. Showers should have rubber mats to prevent falls from wet surfaces. Older adults should consider investing in hoists or seats to make showering and bathing safer as well as a water-proof medical alert device.

Prevent Falls in the Winter

Winter can bring ice and snow, which can increase your risk of falling, that’s why it’s important to make sure surfaces in and around your house are safe and dry. Follow these tips to help prevent falls in icy and snowy weather:

  • Engage your support network if you need help clearing ice and snow from your property so you can keep outside walkways and steps clear of snow and ice.
  • Low lighting is a major cause of falls, so make sure there is enough lighting outdoors, especially near walkways and stairs.
  • If your home’s main entrance is often icy during the winter months, use a different entrance if you can.
  • Make sure your steps are sturdy and have a textured grip to reduce falls if the weather is icy or wet.
  • If you use walking aids such as a cane, walker, or a wheelchair, dry the wheels or tips of each before entering your home.
  • Keep a small table or shelf near the entry door to put items while unlocking the door. This reduces distractions and dangers of slipping or tripping while trying to enter your home. 


Did you know you risk being poisoned at home from everyday items around your house? From cleaning supplies to medications, it’s important to know how to use, store, and respond to prevent serious injury or death. The second leading cause of fatalities is poisoning which leads to 5,000 deaths a year in the U.S. This is a particularly heartbreaking statistic as for the most part curious young children are affected by this type of hazard.

Drug Overdose

Overdose deaths involving opioids, including  prescription opioids heroin, and synthetic opioids (like  fentanyl), have increased by more than eight times since 1999. The death rates are rising; up 31% from 2019 to 2020. Overdoses, including those involving opioids, killed more than 105,400 people in 2022, and over 75% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids.(CDC) Overdose deaths may be prevented by having the right items on hand and knowing what to do if you think someone has overdosed. 

First, consider getting help if your drug use is due to an  addiction. You can call the free, confidential Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at any time. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. You can also visit the SAMHSA online treatment locator , or send your zip code  via text message to  435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Message and data rates may apply. Reply HELP to reach an information specialist. 

Second, make sure you let someone you trust know when you’re using drugs. You can plan to have them contact you at certain times to make sure you’re okay.

Third, if you are taking narcotics for medical conditions, make sure you follow the instructions exactly. Keep all medications in a safe place where they cannot be accessed without your knowledge and out of the reach of children.

Finally, keep an overdose kit nearby. This is important whether you are using drugs – including prescription opioids – or taking illegal narcotics. The kit should include  Naloxone (Narcan®), a life-saving medication can reverse an overdose from opioids — including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications — when given in time.  

  • Naloxone is easy to use and small to carry. Naloxone won’t harm someone if they’re overdosing on drugs other than opioids, so it’s always best to use it if you think someone is overdosing. Talk to a pharmacist or your healthcare provider to learn when and how to use Naloxone.
  • Naloxone is available in all 50 states. If you have been prescribed high-dose opioids, talk to your doctor about co-prescribing naloxone. However, in most states, you can get naloxone at your local pharmacy without a prescription. You can also get naloxone from community-based naloxone programs and most syringe services programs.

Minimize The Risk

  • Keep ALL medications – including vitamins and dietary supplements – in locked cabinets and out of sight where children cannot reach them.
  • Keep medicine out of purses or backpacks where children may find it.
  • Never share prescription medicines.
  • Keep medicines in their original containers, properly labeled and stored appropriately.
  • If you are taking more than one drug at a time, check with your health care provider, pharmacist, or call the toll-free Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center, to find out more about possible drug interactions.

Know How to Respond

For a suspected drug overdose, call 911 and administer Naloxone right away. Try to keep the person awake and breathing and lay the person on their side to prevent choking. Stay with the person until emergency assistance arrives. It’s important to understand that most states have laws that may protect a person who is overdosing or the person who called for help from legal trouble.

If you suspect a poisoning from other substances including household chemicals and over the counter medications, contact the free, expert, confidential National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 right away. Add the number to your cell phone contacts. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Help is also available online through the center’s webPOISONCONTROL® site.

Household Chemical Poisoning

From cleaning supplies, vitamins and medications, there are poisoning risks throughout your home. Children are especially at risk, so it’s important to make sure they cannot reach dangerous items. Never leave young children alone. Always keep children where you can always see them, even when you go to answer the door or telephone. 
Minimize The Risk  

  • Store paint and pesticides in garages and sheds that are locked and on high shelves away from children.
  • Monitor children in the kitchen and do not leave them unattended.
  • Label all unmarked containers and do not store products in food containers.
  • Have the details of the poison control center number in your area on hand and store the number in your mobile phone. In the event of poisoning, you need to act fast.
  • Always store chemicals in their original containers.
  • Never mix household or chemical products together. Doing so can create a dangerous gas.
    • Bleach is especially toxic: do not mix bleach with anything but water.
  • Keep chemical products including laundry detergent in its original container.
  • Keep all chemicals, household cleaners and potentially poisonous substances in locked cabinets and out of sight where children cannot reach them.
  • Safety latches on drawers or cabinets, and child resistant caps on bottles are helpful in keeping poisons out of the hands of children.
  • Keep small batteries away from children.
    • Coin lithium batteries, or button batteries, are small silver-colored discs that power everything from toys and electronics to watches and musical greeting cards and more. If swallowed or placed in the nose or ears, button batteries can cause serious injury or death.


There are many sources of potential accidental burns in the home, and they’re not just caused by a fire. The National Institutes of Health reports that about a half-million people nationwide seek medical attention for burns every year.

There are three types of burns, which are identified by how large an area it covers and how deep the damage goes. You can care for most minor first or second-degree burns at home. 

  • First-degree burns affect only the thin top layer of skin. These burns may turn red, swell and you may experience pain.
  • Second-degree burns include the thick lower layer of skin. These burns may blister, turn red, will usually swell and be painful.
  • A third-degree burn is the most serious; it penetrates the entire thickness of the skin, permanently destroying it and the tissue that’s underneath. These burns require immediate medical attention.

Minimize The Risk

  • Never leave cooking food unattended on the stove. Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
  • Use long oven mitts when removing things from your oven or stove.
  • Use care opening hot food items that are tightly sealed like microwaved food or pre-wrapped convenience meals.
  • Prevent scalds from hot liquids like soups or beverages by keeping them far from the edge of a table or counter.
  • Keep children at least 3 feet away from stoves, grills, campfires, firepits and fireplaces.
  • Unplug objects like an iron or hair styling device when not in use, and make sure they cannot be pulled down or knocked over.
  • Keep appliance cords out of the reach of children.
  • Set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 °F or lower to prevent scalding burns.
  • Wear sunblock.
  • Be careful using chemicals, as some can cause burns.

How to Treat Minor Burns

  • Remove all clothing, diapers, jewelry and metal from the burned area. These can hide underlying burns and retain heat, which can increase skin damage.
  • Use cool water, not cold water or ice. The extreme cold from ice can cause additional injury.
  • If possible, particularly if the burn is caused by chemicals, hold the burned skin under cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes until it is less painful. Use a sink, shower or garden hose.
  • If you don’t have access to cool running water, put a cool, clean wet cloth on the burn, or soak the burn in a cool water bath for five minutes.
  • Clean the burn gently with soap and water.
  • Do not break blisters. An opened blister can get infected.
  • You may put a thin layer of ointment, such as petroleum jelly or aloe vera on the burn. The ointment does not need to have antibiotics in it. Some antibiotic ointments can cause an allergic reaction. Do not use cream, lotion, oil, cortisone, butter, or egg white.
  • You can cover the burn with a sterile non-stick gauze lightly taped or wrapped over it. But don’t use one that can shed fibers, because they can get caught in the burn. Change the dressing once a day. 

See a doctor, call 911, or go to the hospital if:

  • The burn is dark red and looks glossy with a lot of blistering.
  • See your doctor or call 911 if the burn is larger than two inches.
  • From a fire, an electrical wire or socket, or chemicals
  • The burned skin is dry and leathery, perhaps with white, brown, or black patches.
  • Contact your provider if you have signs of infection including Increased pain, redness, swelling, discharge, fever, swollen lymph nodes or red streak from the burn.

Burns are susceptible to tetanus. If your last tetanus shot was more than five years ago, you may need a booster shot.